Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Good bye, Anheuser-Busch

Beer is not usually my alcoholic beverage of choice. I'm more a wine and spirits kinda gal. Give me a full bodied, complex red wine and I'm a one happy girl. I'm also quite fond of Polish vodka, British gin, Mexican tequila, Italian Amaretto and French Pastis. Once in a while I'll try a craft beer, some microbrew thing, unfiltered wheat or toasted dark as coffee, but not often. So you'd think InBev's acquisition of Anheuser-Busch would mean nothing to me. You would be wrong.

The buyout is undoubtedly good for some people on both sides of the coin, bad for others. But it is devastating for St. Louis. Setting aside the economic impact of impending layoffs, the city will be losing part of its identity. Since 1852, Anheuser-Busch (then Bavarian Brewery) has been a fixture on the South side. People looked to A-B as a business leader, a place to find a "good job" that they could keep until retirement. Though growing by leaps and bounds, back then A-B was still a family company headed by the Busch's. That family feeling extended beyond the gargoyle-topped doors of 721 Pestalozzi Street, out into the community. A-B bought the Saint Louis Cardinals baseball team and built them a grand home downtown, the sadly demolished architectural landmark, Busch Stadium. They brought us the Budweiser Clydesdales, ambassadors of brewing history. They built the Bevo Mill, the Feasting Fox and Grant's Farm and opened them for everyone to enjoy. Like thousands of others raised in the St. Louis metro area, I cheered as August A. Busch, Jr. rode the antique beer wagon, pulled by the clydesdale hitch, around Busch Stadium before the big game. And I wept with millions as that same hitch bowed in solomn memory of those lost on 9/11 during A-B's 2002 Super Bowl ad.

True, A-B has not been a family owned company for some time, Gussie passed on in 1989 and things have never been the same. The Cards were sold in 1996. A-B became it's own corporate behemouth, but still a huge part of St. Louis both in collective memory and reality. Now I, like many long time area residents, feel betrayed. It was just business. That's the way the world is today. I have no claim on the company, no reason to grouse. But I'm still sad; an era has passed. Good bye, Anheuser-Busch. Rest in peace, Gussie, we still miss you.

No comments: